We conquered Disney World today. Oddly, the boys slept late-ish. I let them--I know from experience at Cedar Point that arriving at the park when it opens doesn't really get you any advantage on wait time for rides. Everyone else thinks the same thing and arrives early, too.
The last time I visited Disney was in the third grade, so my information was out of date. I was a little nervous about getting there--would it be tricky, and so on. I told myself that Disney has created an entire industry out of getting people into the park to spend money, and that they would ensure we won't get turned around.
This was totally true. Once the GPS got us to Orlando, the signs for Disney World were clear and numerous. You're sucked in like a whirlpool. Parking wasn't as costly as I'd feared, either. The boys were fascinated with the process of riding a tram, then boarding a monorail to the park proper. We bought our tickets and went into the fabled magic kingdom.
What followed was a mixed bag, really. Here’s why: Disney World seems to be stuboornly set in 1964, with Mickey and Donald and Goofy and Cinderella and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. But the boys have only seen a few cartoons with Mickey and friends. They’ve never seen Cinderella or Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. To them, Disney is The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid and Buzz Lightyear. They were a little mystified about who all these unfamiliar cartoon characters were.
A new Fantasyland to house more modern characters is under construction, but for now, they're all conspicuously absent. It seems a strange choice, given their current demographic.
There was other stuff that grabbed their attention. The characters and the rides associated with them, however, didn't.
Aran and Maksim waffled between charmed and bored, fascinated and yawning. Mackie doesn't much like big swoopy rides, but he adored the people mover and the Carousel of Progress. (That was a surprise--I thought he'd be bored, but he sang along with the songs and found the animatronic family entrancing.) Aran did some street dancing with some other kids to a DJ--he was pretty good--and was embarrassed to discover I was taping him. He made me promise never to show or post it.
Mackie had a temper tantrum around lunchtime. He complained that thee had nothing to do, but then refused to say what he wanted to do, even when I offered him a number of choices. I think he was a little overwhelmed, to tell the truth.
I finally sent Aran off on his own, armed with his new cell phone. He happily hurried off to try the rides Mackie had refused. (Look, everyone--normal teen behavior! How cool is that?)
I dragged Mackie around to a few different places, and finally got him on the train. He liked this very much, and we rode it twice all the way around the park. He adored the animatronic people on display along the track.
Small aside--yesterday, Mackie saw a newspaper article about a boy with a rare genetic disorder that makes the hunger centers in his brain misfire. He never feels full and will eat himself to death if allowed. The boy is terribly overweight and his mother has to lock all the food in the house up.
On the train, a couple and their young daughter boarded and took seats next to us. All three were morbidly obese and were digging into ice cream. When we got off, Mackie said to me, "Did that family have the eating disease?"
"No," I said. "That's very rare."
"They need to be healthier then," Mackie said. "They could die."
"Yes. But I’m glad you didn't say anything on the train."
"No. That would be mean," he said.
We next went to Tom Sawyer’s Island. Mackie had never heard of Tom Sawyer, but there's a rustic fort on that island, and Mackie just about died and went to heaven. He rushed around defending the place from invaders and shooting the toy guns they have there in the towers. We spent more than two hours there, and he was still going strong when it was time to go meet Aran. I had to pry him away!
We found Aran at the castle, our meeting place. He was perfectly fine and had gone on Space Mountain and other rides, which he loved.
We tried a couple other attractions. Mackie freaked at the Haunted Mansion, so Aran did that alone. We also watched part of the show at Cinderella’s Castle. Once again, it was all old characters, none of the new ones. Weird.
I was willing to stay much later, but the boys ran out of energy at about nine, so we retraced our steps, tough we took the ferry back instead of the monorail. I told the boys the story of Tom Sawyer and whitewashing the fence.
On the drive back to Daytona Beach, Mackie leaned back in his seat and said, "This was nice," which about summed it all up.